To tell a compelling story…

Three out of five Cheetos for The Host

Posted on: December 16, 2010

Grab a few bags of Cheetos for this one.

This month, Bookhungry members read The Host, by Stephenie Meyer and before you let out a groan based on your Twilight perceptions, let me say up front, this was a decent story with a light science fiction scent that reduced me to tears at more than one point.

The eponymous host refers to one of the few remaining ‘wild’ humans who continue to thwart the essentially peaceful takeover of Earth by an alien race of parasitic worms. The story begins when the human body of Melanie Stryder is prepped for surgery… the transfer of alien Wanderer’s worm-like form into Melanie’s body.

But something goes wrong.

In most transfers, including all of Wanderer’s previous lives, the host consciousness is erased. Killed. But Melanie refuses to sign over ownership of her body to the despised worms who have already taken her entire family except for her little brother, Jamie. Melanie and Jamie have been living on the run, sticking to shadows, for a long time when they encounter Jared, another still-human resistance fighter. Jamie and Jared fuel Mel’s will to live but when she is captured and prepped for transfer, thoughts of them keep her consciousness stubbornly anchored to her body.

When Wanderer awakes in her new host, she is deluged by both Melanie’s memories and her fury. Here’s where things get interesting…  in a clever twist that has us sympathizing with the aliens, Meyer uses not Melanie but Wanderer to narrate the story, giving readers insight into what shapes the “souls” and their takeover of our planet. A peaceful race, the “souls” simply require host bodies in which to experience all the universe has to offer. Wanderer has lived many lives over hundreds of years. Despite taking over bodies, theirs is not a violent race. There is no crime, no violence, not even a need for money.

So where’s the conflict?

Glad you asked. It’s bad enough Wanderer has to live with Melanie’s voice in her head but it gets worse when her Seeker, a type of cop in Wanderer’s world, suspects something is amiss. Wanderer and Melanie work together to “go native” and escape the Seeker, finding their way to the hideout of the last pocket of human resistors where Melanie believes Jamie and Jared to be. Wanderer is not exactly well received.

Most of the humans, Jared included, want to kill her but Melanie’s uncle, who leads the group, suspects Melanie may still be in there somewhere and keeps Wanderer prisoner. Living among violent humans terrifies Wanderer but soon, she develops friendships with them, even falls in love and a few of them with her. I enjoyed how Wanderer, Melanie, Jared and another human develop a sort of Venn lover’s triangle with Melanie/Wanderer at the center, since two of them occupy the same body.  Readers witness the internal struggle Wanderer has with Melanie, as well as the external struggles she has with pretty much everyone in the hide-out.

I won’t divulge anymore of the plot but will say this. The story admittedly moves slowly but seeing our world through Wanderer’s second-hand eyes makes you wonder if we deserve all that we have. There is also a satisfying resolution to an impossible love triangle. Sweetest part? When Wanderer exclaims, “Cheetos? Really? For me?” like she’d been handed a precious jewel.

I’d give the story 3 out of 5 Cheetos, er – stars because it was long and a bit slow but once it got started, it pulled me in. But you don’t have to take my word on it. Go read the rest of my Bookhungry team’s reviews!

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10 Responses to "Three out of five Cheetos for The Host"

This is the only Stephenie Meyer book I’ve read, and I have to say I really enjoyed it. It was a bit slow at the beginning, but after I got into it I didn’t want to put it down. Talk about “internal conflict”!

I think SM is a genius at conflict.

i agree with the “bit long” and “sometimes slow” but you’re right, the story eventually sucks you in until you can reach the end.

love the cheetos rating system! i hope you didn’t get any orange fingerprints on your book.

Nope, no Cheetos for me! I may, however, have smeared my chocolate.

I started it but felt it was very slow moving too… but if it’s worth the journey, I shall try a second time! Thanks, Patty!

Good luck on the second pass. I think you’ll like it once you get to the desert part.

ha! love the Cheetos rating system 🙂 Also, my fave line in the whole book came from Burns Living Flowers when he said, “Looks like I’m not the only one who’s gone native.” Okay. Yeah, that was spoiler-y but hey. I LOVE this book 🙂

and GREAT review Patty. I love the venn-triangle you created.

Isn’t it awesome how we all see the book differently. That is what I love about book club. How a book can take you away in different instances. Even from the very first, Hunger Games I can still remember the stand out parts that spoke to me. I think this book will be the same. There are some places that just made you stop and wonder if he we are deserving of the existence that we have and all the connotations that brings up since none of us asked to be here in the first place. This one really had me thinking and dusting off my philosophy 101 books.

I agree; that’s the best part of a book club. My son wanted permission to stay up late so he could finish the book last night. it sucked him in, too, even though “it was written by that Twilight girl.”

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Hi! Welcome to my blog. I’m Patty.

I'm a writer represented by Denise Little, The Ethan Ellenberg Agency. I love to tell stories, to boast about my sons, to indulge in a serious chocolate obsession. (I often combine these passions.)

During the day, I write software user guides, but at night, I let my hair down... and write whatever I want. (I know. You expected something else. Sorry.) I'm currently working on a YA story about sexting gone horribly bad called SEND. I use this blog to explore my passions.

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